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By Carlos Rojas

Carlos Rojas provides a sweeping survey of the old and political importance of 1 of the world’s so much recognizable monuments. even if the beauty of the nice Wall has develop into nearly synonymous with its giant measurement, the structure’s conceptual coherence is really grounded at the tenuous and ephemeral tales we inform approximately it. those tales supply lifestyles to the Wall and aid safe its carry on our collective mind's eye, whereas even as allowing it to continuously reinvent itself in line with the wishes of every new period. via an exam of allusions to the Wall in an eclectic array of texts—ranging from respectable dynastic histories, elite poetry, and renowned folktales, to modern vacationer testimonials, children’s songs, and avant-garde functionality art—this research maps out a provocative new framework for realizing the structure’s functionality and importance. This quantity ways the Wall during the tales we inform and contends that it's accurately during this cultural background that we may well locate the Wall’s precise which means, including the key of its greatness. (20110216)

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The Great Wall: A Cultural History

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Extra info for The Great Wall: A Cultural History

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If the Ming had been repairing an ancient and well-known “Great Wall,” it seems likely that they would have had little choice but to continue to use its traditional name. ”14 This point about the multiplicity of names used to refer to the Wall is one of the capstones of Waldron’s argument that the Wall as we now know it is basically a modern invention. His logic, however, is fundamentally flawed. Although it is certainly legitimate to ask whether different utterances of a particular term or phrase necessarily refer to the same physical and conceptual entity, it is nevertheless rather odd to claim that when the Ming was building its new border wall, it “would have had little choice” but to use an earlier name, had one existed.

In fact, given that Chinese generally does not distinguish orthographically between proper and common nouns, or even between singular and plural ones, the term chang cheng could—from a strictly lexical and syntactic perspective—refer to a specific entity, a general category of objects, or even a multitude of unrelated structures. We can, therefore, easily imagine two people—one of them in the present and the other in the distant past—standing in the same location along the Wall, pointing to different incarnations of the same structure and uttering the same word (after allowing for the phonetic drift of the Chinese language), yet understanding the term in very different ways.

Do, which would have been used consistently. When dynasties restored or repaired that Wall, as we are told they did, they would have used that name. Yet when we turn to the vocabulary used by Chinese to describe wall-building, we find not a single name, but rather a range of terms and usages that are utterly inconsistent with such a situation. If the Ming had been repairing an ancient and well-known “Great Wall,” it seems likely that they would have had little choice but to continue to use its traditional name.

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